Thursday, April 29, 2010

Those Are BIG Rocks!

The structural part of the bottom wall is finished.  It is even backfilled.  The stakes are in place for the second wall.  Now they are placing the large rock cladding in front of the bottom wall.  Eventually these rocks will be spray painted a darker color to match the rocks on the cliffs in the area.  The crane operator was very skilled.  He was picking up those rocks as if they were small building blocks and putting them in the right place one after the other.

The general contractor says that everything is going very smoothly. They should be able to start pouring the foundation in a little more than a month.  But that means that we have to make final decisions on the interior doors and plumbing before the foundation is laid.

We have checked out the recommended window and exterior door manufacturer.  They build mostly commercial windows and doors, but since the exterior theme is "Silicon Valley Corporate", what they have is perfect for us; heavy aluminum framed windows and doors in clear coat.  They will be very modern and clean.  Unfortunately we don't have a clue about what to chose for interior doors; painted?  stained?  paneled?  We will have a lot of decisions to make next week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First They Built A Wall

At the end of the second week, we have not only a wall foundation, but an actual wall!  And strangely enough for southern Nevada in April, it rained much of the afternoon.   This was a good thing because the dust can be a real problem, especially when we get strong winds, like yesterday.  The white truck is a water truck that is used to keep the dust down when the contractors are moving dirt.  We should be able to use the water from the local water pipes, but unfortunately, the pipes along our road are not hooked up yet -- Real Soon Now.  The wall will be extended further down the slope (to the left in the picture above) as soon as the inspector passes on the sewer pipe that will be under the wall at the lowest point.  We were lucky to be able to connect to a lower sewer pipe rather than the pipe in front of the house and have to use a pump to raise the sewage up to the front road.

The wall they are building is made of interlocking bricks with netting between every four rows to further strengthen the wall.  Although the bricks are fairly handsome by themselves, eventually they will be clad in rough rock to match the blasted canyon walls further down the slope.  They are just about ready to start the next wall up the slope, which will be clad in stone tiles to match the tiles on the house itself.  There are three levels of walls and a fairly huge footing for the house itself.  It wouldn't have taken months to get the permits if we could have built one tall wall, but there are restrictions on the height that any wall can be.  Then every wall has to be separated by several feet before another wall can be built.  It took a lot of negotiation to get the engineering of these walls just right.  But I am actually feeling less paranoid about the length of time it took to get our building permits.  Another couple who bought a piece of flat land about the same time we did and are building a smaller and more traditional house near us just got their building permit.  I guess firing 90% of the plan checkers who used to work for the City of Henderson has brought most construction to a standstill.

Tomorrow we are planning to meet with the first of several window vendors.  We need to get the windows ordered because most of them are custom sizes.  After choosing the windows we will work on ordering the doors, so that when the framing starts in a couple of months everything structural will be ready to go.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Week One

Sure, it is good to see people digging on the site.  But it is even better to see them finally building.  What they are doing here is forming the foundation for the first retaining wall at the bottom of the slope.  Slowly they will work their way up the slope, filling in behind finished retaining walls and building more retaining walls higher on the slope.

This is wall that they will eventually build, then face with rock. These are interlocking concrete segments that will be linked together for strength.  By next week I hope to be able to show you at least a partial wall.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day One

I guess we were way optimistic that we would have a building permit in only two more weeks.  Try four more months!  And after the building permit was finally approved, we still had to wait while the excavator tested the soil (again) and lined up the heavy machinery.  But even if we are eight months behind where I thought we would be by now, we finally are starting the construction phase.

This is what the site looks like now - a big orange digger and a smaller yellow hauler.  With, of course, the most important part of the site, the orange portapotty.  For the next 90 days, there won't be a lot of work on the house itself.  Starting at the base of the fifty foot slope, they will be working their way up the slope building retaining walls.  The first wall will be a large rockery wall that will match the rock near the site.  That will be followed by several walls that will be tiled to match the house itself.

I won't have daily reports for a while, but at least I hope to see progress week by week.  Time to go back and make a few more decisions, starting with the windows and interior doors.  Of course, what I am really thinking about are the kitchen cabinets and the paint colors, but those decisions are needed far in the future.